Tomatoes have amazing health benefits. And even with canned or jarred tomato sauce you can still benefit from what they offer. They are loaded with vitamin C, provide iron and are high in lycopene and antioxidants. So having jarred or canned tomato sauce on hand as a kitchen staple is a win win. they are easy to use as a quick add in to a go-to dinner and has health benefits!
When I was first transitioning my family away from meat the easiest meal for me was to make pasta with tomato sauce and top it with “roman-no way” cheeze! And why you ask the sauce is so dark? Well, my little asked the same thing and while this was one of her favorite meals I just told her “I don’t know, it is the regular sauce we normally use”. She ate it all up without looking at the dark color again. Because the dark color was just that, color with no taste change…….There is spinach is that sauce (hehehe) and little did my family know they were eating lots of vitamins and nutrients already from the tomato sauce now they had an extra dose of vitamins and nutrients with extra-spinach. Oh! and there is some vitamin b12 and protein in the “roman-NO way” cheeze….but that “cheese” wasn’t even questioned! It resemble real cheese and tasted so good no one asked a thing! Now…. one last thing…… the pasta in the picture is 100% whole wheat pasta (which has 8 grams of protein per each 2 oz serving, in case you were thinking “where is the protein”)……And I will do a post on that “OLD” question about “where do you get your protein from” and how much you really need …..but for now just know I am not lacking protein…….So, back to this dish….I have to confess that when I started taking out the meat in this particular dish I did bring back “white pasta” at first so help with the transition ….but now for this dish were are back to 100% WW.
Now for the details of this recipe…..Yes, you can make your Grandmother’s marinara sauce recipe from the fresh tomatoes grown in the back garden….but quite frankly I do not have the time and although Grandma’s recipe would have tasted great here I had work, homework, laundry, housecleaning etc….you get the point….to do! So, jarred sauce it is! So a quick background on jarred tomato sauce. There a tons of options. I look for organic, because tomatoes are on the dirty dozen list. When my favorite organic sauce is on sale….I buy lots! Jarred sauce tends to pretty clean just take a peek at the ingredients label just to be sure. Also, check the oil and sugar content. The oil content will usual show in how much fat is in it based on the servings and the sugar will show in grams on the label. You will have to find a balanced one that works for your family. The sauce that I like is between 3 brands and based on what store I am at and how much they are is the one I buy. I use either Whole Foods 365 brand organic pasta marinara sauce, this one is oil free, Stop n Shop brand “Nature’s Promise” organic tomato basil sauce, this one has minimal oil but has the most sugar of the three and my last one is Muir Glen organic tomato basil sauce and this one is low in sugar but high in oil compared to all three. Now, for the pasta. I just choose whatever is the cheapest brand that has only 1 ingredient on the label. 100% whole grain or whole wheat durum flour and if I am buying white pasta then I look for the same thing, 1 ingredient on the label. 100% Durum/Semolina flour. Now , yes there are times I can’t find just 1 ingredient pasta but I do my very best to always buy extra and keep as a staple in my home.
Once you have your pasta and sauce…….. prepare the pasta as directed on the box. Now for the sneaky part. Take about a cup of fresh baby spinach and add it to your blender with about 2 cups of sauce and blend away until the spinach is all blended in and all that is left is a dark rich red color tomato sauce. If the color of the sauce is too dark and off-putting for you or your family just add less spinach or you can omit it altogether…….Next pour the blended sauce with the rest of the sauce left in the jar and heat up. Once your past is ready add you heated sauce. In my family everyone likes a different amount of sauce so everyone adds their own amount. And for the finale….top your pasta off with the “Roman-NO way” cheeze! The Roman-NO-way cheeze can be found under my “Milk does the body no good” blog post.
This is an easy, quick and tasty dinner. You can use any shape pasta and add as much or as little tomato sauce as you like. Have this meal "family style" or individual servings. I like to add a vegetable or a salad for the side. But truly add whatever veggies are a fav in your home to help your meatless meal go seamless. Mangia Mangia!
- 1 16 oz box Pasta -Whatever is your favorite shape & brand
- 1 26 oz jar Pasta Sauce
- 1 Cup Fresh baby spinach
- Roman-no cheeze (optional)
In a pot, bring water to boil with a pinch of salt and cook pasta according to instructions on the box.
Add 1 cup of fresh baby spinach to your blender with 2 cups of the jarred sauce and blend until smooth. Add the blended sauce to sauce pan and add the rest of the sauce from the jar and heat through. I like to use fresh baby spinach as I find it blends easy and smooth.
Drain pasta, add your sauce and top with whatever toppings you like. I used fresh parsley and roman-no cheeze. Sometimes I like to use hot pepper flakes to give it a kick. Mangia Mangia!